Students who hastily choose a major often waste a lot of time and money when they
later change their plans. Changing a program or major can easily add thousands of
dollars per semester to a students overall debt load. The longer you stay in a program
that isn't right for you, the costlier the result.
If you are unsure of what major to choose, consider enrolling in "career exploration"
that will allow you to take core classes that are applicable to many different programs
while you learn about career options and find the program that is right for you. This
can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Once you decide on a program or major, look at the various job choices that you will
have with your degree in that field. Also look at the earning potential for that degree.
Do a job search as if you have already earned your degree. Will the beginning salary
range for the field you have selected be enough to comfortably allow you make your
student loan payments? If not, are you willing to sacrifice your financial future
to stay in the program you selected?
Many students entering college are accustomed to a lifestyle that their parent's have
established through years of hard work. Unless your parents are willing to continue
supporting you in that lifestyle while you are in college, you may have to make some
difficult choices to ensure your own personal stability for your future.
Examine your finances and establish a budget.
Stick to your budget.
Avoid credit-card traps.
Don't make compulsive purchases you cannot afford.
Don't eat at restaurants if you have a meal plan.
Drink coffee at campus dining facilities versus pricier vendors.
Utilize free or low-cost campus entertainment options.
Start saving your pennies and spare change in a jar for emergencies.
Get a part-time job to help cover your expenses.
Get a roommate. Private rooms can add thousands of dollars to your overall housing
Hold off on purchasing a personal computer until you graduate. The laptop computer
you purchase as a freshman will likely be obsolete when you go into the workforce.
You don't want to pay interest on loans that you used for outdated technology.
If you have money saved from open houses or other savings plans, use those resources
before you borrow.
Each time you are presented with loan options it is recommended that you log into
the National Student Loan Data System to review your total federal loan debt. You may also use available loan calculators to estimate your student loan payments before you take out those loans.
Re-taking classes because you did not pass them the first time is very costly. Not
only do you have to pay each time you re-take them, but you may have to pay for extended
living expenses for additional semesters as well.
Work with your academic advisor to develop a plan to take all of the necessary courses
to earn your degree in as short a time as possible, and stick to that plan. Adding
electives, taking reduced course loads that allow you to "coast" through the classes
that you do take, can add thousands of dollars to your education costs.
Student loans are often necessary to help families cover the cost an education. When
you and your family determine that you must borrow money to finance your education,
keep the following tips in mind:
Sources Of Financial Aid Are Limited. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid presents each student with the best
possible financial aid package. That package usually includes federal student loans.
As far as loan options go, students are encouraged to take advantage of federal loans
before resorting to private loan sources, as they are typically much more flexible
than private lenders when the student goes into repayment.
Borrow From Reputable Lenders. Ferris State University maintains an Alternative Loan webpage that can act as a starting point to search for a private lender.
Look At Fixed Interest Rate Options. Student loan interest rates are currently rising quickly. Variable rate student
loans often do not have a capped or ceiling rate. The average student pays back student
loans over a period of 15 years. With no ceiling rate cap, interest rates on variable
loans could potentially skyrocket in the next 10-20 years, greatly affecting a student's
ability to repay.
Look At Parent Loan Options. The Parent PLUS Loan option through the federal government allows parents to borrow
for their student's education, thereby reducing the financial burden on the student.
Don't Over Borrow. Students often borrow the maximum allowed under federal financial aid regulations,
which includes enough money to cover personal expenses and transportation costs. Most
families have budgeted household funds to cover their student's personal and transportation
expenses before they enter college. If the family continues to cover those expenses,
that can reduce a student's loan debt by a few thousand dollars per year, or several
thousand dollars over their college career.